The Sport line up of Red Paddle Co boards have been designed for a slightly more experienced paddler, offering a step up in speed and dynamic performance from the Ride family of all round boards, but not the out and out speed at the cost of stability of the Elite models.
2016 was a year where the introduction of MSL set Red Paddle Co apart from all the other inflatable paddle board manufacturers. While many of them are playing catch up with fusion style constructions of their own, Red Paddle Co is already a year ahead and improving on the industry leading MSL Technology. MSL is a patented technology and construction process, much like Gore-Tex, so you won’t find it on any other paddle boards.
Let’s take a look at the details of the 11’3″ Sport Special Edition, how it paddles, who it’s good for and how it fits into the Red Paddle Co range. So let’s begin with the 2020 Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport Special Edition review and videos.
Red Paddle Co in 2020
Content to just improve the technical aspects of inflatable paddle boarding, Red Paddle Co’s line hasn’t seen much in the way of aesthetic changes since 2018. For 2020 however, Red Paddle Co has made range wide changes to the graphics, colors and package features of some models.
The 2020 inflatable sup bag is a carry over of the exceptionally good All Terrain Bag. Charcoal in color, with red stitching. it features an internal mesh pocket, used for a leash, fin, keys etc, paddle bungee tie downs for a 3 piece paddle, and a foil lining on the inside of the bag material and upgraded zipper pulls. The foil lining improves the heat protection of the board if you leave it in your car or in a hot climate, and doubles as a waterproof lining so your wet gear won’t leak out of the bag after a session.
Bag dimensions remain the same at: 37″ high, 14″ wide and 12″ deep.
Space is aplenty for the Titan pump, a 3 piece paddle, leash and even wetsuit, PFD etc. The Titan Pump comes with the board wrapped around it which is a great space saving technique and something I continue to do. It also keeps the pump secure with the board when cinched down. With previous pumps, this wasn’t such an issue but as the Titan is a little bulkier it makes sense to use the space inside the rolled up board for something, keep it secure in the bag and have room for more. I’ll get into this more later in this review but thanks to the MSL Fusion construction process, the board also rolls tighter leaving you even more room in the bag for extras.
Carry handles on both sides, as well as the top and bottom give you, and baggage handlers, plenty of places to grab and carry the bag. The Sherpa backpack system was updated in 2018 and carries over into 2020. The strap stash system was updated to make it easier to access and stash the straps. The Sherpa system allows you to carry the bag on your back with comfortable shoulder and waist straps, or tuck them away out of sight and away from hungry baggage carousel gremlins and just roll the bag on the integrated wheels and be confident the bag will arrive safely. See more photos of the bag here.
As packaged from the factory the board is protected by a layer of plastic to separate the board from itself when rolled, the Titan pump in it’s own bag and a bag that bundles the whole lot.
The majority of the Red Paddle Co line now comes standard with the improved and more efficient Titan Pump. Overall the Titan makes pumping the board a much quicker process. The angled foot base and wide handle work well for me with my long legs and wide shoulders.
Anyway, Red have taken into account some of the ergonomics for comfortable and efficient inflation as well as doubling the input volume of air with every stroke.
Pump up to about 8-10 PSI on the included gauge and then you pull the red plug out of the back of the handle, affix to the little nub so it doesn’t flap around, and continue on the HP side to go all the way to 25 PSI. The Titan still beats any electric pump I’ve come across in inflation time, but yes, you do have to do the work…
Back in 2017, the Titan Pump had been totally reworked internally and was even more efficient. The 2020 model continues with the improved handle design, beefier internal valves, hose adaptors for your favourite inflatable toys, it pumps even more smoothly and efficiently.
Inflating the 2020 11’3″ Red Paddle Sport Special Edition took me 4 minutes and 10 seconds including the time required to insert the RSS battens. Add another 20 seconds to attach the easy to install FCS tool-less fin and you’re ready to paddle!
The original Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport was introduced in 2017, and the Special Edition for the 2020 model year. Dimensionally 11’3″ Sport models are the same, but differ from the other Sports slightly. This model is 11’3″ long, 32″ wide and 4.75″ thick. The 11′ Sport is 11′ x 30″ x 4.75 and the 12’6″ Sport is 12’6″ x 30″ x 5.9″. Being a new model it also benefits from the improved details of Red Paddle Co for 2017, a few minor tweaks and upgrades. You can’t really see the thicker second layer as part of the MSL Fusion process, but you can see the revised deck pad (diamond cut rear section), rail and shoulder graphics, RAM Mount on the nose integrated with a d-ring and velcro locator patch for the RSS Battens.
This process consists of industrially fusing and machine pressing the inner layer of polymer to the high density drop stitch core at the raw material stage. Same “board with a board” construction but with material that is now structurally more sound, even more rigid, as well as lighter. More details about MSL over here. For 2020, Red Paddle Co have further refined the MSL construction, tweaking materials, weaves, thickness and bond strength which means they’ve all but stopped batch inconsistencies and it allows them to make boards from the most advanced drop stitch available, without any unnecessary excess or errors.
MSL tech talk aside, what does this mean for the paddler? Well, the cosmetic finish is drastically improved as I’ve mentioned, the boards are about 20% lighter over standard double layer boards, and since they are fused and machine pressed together, they are essentially one piece instead of 2 layers, and are structurally stiffer at lower pressure. Red Paddle Co recommend a pumping pressure of 16-22 PSI for most applications to make the most of these benefits and improve overall performance.
I usually stop pumping at 20 PSI on the Red Paddle Co boards, I prefer to be paddling than pumping. I find this is a good match between pumping effort and stiffens on the water. If it is choppier or I’ll have my kids on the front, I might pump a little more.
Red Paddle Co have famously tested the durability and toughness of their boards over the years. Most recently you can watch a series of unbelievable durability tests performed on a poor 2017 10’6″ Ride model. Also, take a look at a 2014 board taking a beating. Knowing that the Red Paddle Co MSL construction boards are this strong, should put your mind at ease!
The 2020 11’3″ Sport Special Edition weighs in at 21lbs, including battens and fin. Red Paddle Co are careful not to make the boards too light. Yes, there is such a thing. Obviously the weight is there for rigidity and performance reasons, but we also need some weight in the board to control it in rougher waters or wind. A board with some weight is predictable and stable making it better suited to all paddlers.
As with the 11′ and 12’6″ Sports, the 11’3″ comes with RSS battens which are designed to counter the effects of the paddler’s standing position and weight, the point around which inflatables can flex. RSS battens improve stiffness by up to 50%. That said, it is hard to notice any flex at all when paddling a Red Paddle Co board.
Carried over from the 2018/19 models, Red Paddle Co are using the tool-less FCS 9″ SUP Touring fin. Many of the Sport and Voyager boards use the same top quality FCS touring style fin which inserts easily into the US fin box. The thumb bolt and plate locking mechanism provides a secure fin connection. While many brands are going for the quick insert style fins, Red Paddle Co preferred to have a more fixed and secure fin solution for worry free paddling.
Since 2017, almost all of the Red Paddle Co inflatable paddle boards feature a Railblaza/RAM Mount, or two. These mounts use a special M8 screw thread to which there are many compatible Railblaza/RAM Mount products, two of the world’s leading accessory bracket manufacturers. This mount enables you to securely attach a range of accessories, from GPS devices and cameras to fishing rods and cup holders. On the 2020 11’3″ Sport, there is one mounting point integrated into the new nose mounted carry handle. More info on RAM Mounts here.
Up a little closer we can see the edges of the material are cleanly cut, the glue lines that previously wandered are all now dead straight thanks to the robots. The tie-down d-rings are now stainless steel with heavy duty bungee cord. The center carry handle is now padded. There is also a carry handle integrated into the leash d-ring on the tail which is excellent for pulling the board through waves, up the beach or generally just holding on etc.
The package includes a repair kit with glue and patches, a waterproof phone case, and a general guide book with inflation instructions, pump tips and care tips inside the mesh pocket. Finally, a wrapping strap to keep the board rolled up.
On the water
I’m 6ft and 180lbs, and the 11’3″ Sport is a great board. The 11′ Sport is a bit too small for me, read our 11′ Sport review here, so the 11’3″ slots in nicely for something more manoeuvrable and a little more stable than the 12’6″ Sport, which I should mention also moves up the the thicker 5.9″ drop stitch construction. This provides a stiffer board at the same PSI but requires more pumping. The 12’6″ also works very well for me, faster with better glide etc, but I prefer a slightly wider more manoeuvrable board for all round stuff. As my kids have grown, I’ve come to appreciate the slightly wider boards. Kids aren’t great at sitting still so the stability is a big help. It’s not too noticeably slower due the width, but the benefits are certainly there.
The Special Edition colors from Red Paddle Co really pop. The purple 11’3″ Sport really stand out from the range, like the 10’6″ Ride did when it launched and due to it’s success, we have the 11’3″ Sport SE.
The board has excellent glide and tracks well thanks to the amazing 9″ FCS SUP Touring fin. It has more nose rocker than a regular touring or race board to go over chop or rough waters rather than pierce through it, this helps with general stability and comfort in paddling. Board is narrower in the forward section compared to all round boards, designed for speed but the mid board width carries a long way back to the tail to maintain stability. The extra width and square tail makes it easy to move up and down the deck while being confident in the stability of the board and to turn the board.
Will also surf small waves thanks to extra nose rocker and the squared off tail/wide deck area allowing you to get right back and control the board.
The deck pad is large and comfortable. It has a “crocodile-skin” textured finish which provides ample grip for general use and is very comfortable. Continued on the Sport range for 2020, the rear section (about 1.5′ from the tail inwards) is a diamond cut EVA texture which provides better grip towards the tail for step back turns. It also helps you know where your foot is in relation to the tail without having to look down, in barefoot at least. The diamond texture also provide better grip for getting back on the board to ride waves.
- Length: 11’3″
- Width: 32″
- Thickness: 120mm, 4.72 inches
- Volume: 306 liters
- Weight: 21 lbs board only, 30 lbs with backpack and pump
- Max payload: 240 lbs/110 kg
- Warranty: 5 year
- Very stable and fast cruising SUP
- Amazing tracking from fin, being tool-less is a huge bonus too
- Top notch finish and build quality
- Super stiff at 4.75″ thick and with RSS battens
- Quick inflation with the Titan Pump
- Comfy handles, useful tail mounted handle
- Large and comfy deck pad
- Clever internal packaging in the bag for secure transportation of paddle and other accessories
- RAM Mount to mount accessories like GPS, camera or phone
- Improved EVA deck pad with diamond texture towards the tail for better feeling and grip
- Excellent glide and tracking
- Variety in color from the rest of the range
- RSS Battens are a pain to get in the first few times before the pockets loosen up
An excellent all round, day cruising and touring cross over board for those who want stability coupled with good glide and speed. Excellent value for money when you consider the excellent quality of the board, upgraded bag and upgraded pump. Find all the details here: 2020 Red Paddle Co 11’3″ Sport.